Monday, February 13, 2012

Origin Of Kuchipudi



Kuchipudi was introduced as a dance drama, but its present day dispensation tells a different story altogether. It has now been reduced only to dance form, with the drama missing completely. With proficient training and knowledge, the Kuchipudi dancers have started presenting the dance form in their individualistic ways, today. In the present timesd, majority of the Kuchipudi dancers are women. Kuchipudi dramas are enacted during nights, in open air, on improvised stages. The audience generally sits on the ground.

History 
Kuchipudi originated from a hamlet in Andhra Pradesh, called Kuchelapuri or Kuchelapuram, in the 3rd century B.C. This dance style, like many other classical dance forms, was initially presented at temples and was performed by the Brahmin men (known as Bhagavathalu). These dances were meant to prove as offerings to the deities and women were never allowed to participate in the dance group. The very first group of Brahmin performers (Bhagavathalu) was formed in 1502 A.D.

Kuchipudi, the dance-drama (referred to as Ata Bhagavatham) from Andhra Pradesh, is based on themes drawn from the Hindu epics, The Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is a Folk-dance style quite close to Bharatanatyam while retaining its folk origin. Kuchipudi has been the result of the Bhakti movement in the 6th century. In the 17th century, Siddendra Yogi, the progenitor of the form, presented a dance-drama with boys from the village of kuchipudi. the techniques used then were passed on to the subsequent generations.
Kuchipudi plays are performed in the open air on an improvised stage at night. The sutradhar, or master of ceremonies, Plays an integral rol in introducing the characters, providing humour and tying together the show. The fast-paced nature of the form has made it a popular dramatic form. today it is better known as solo dance.



Women Playing Male Parts

Siddhendra Yogi championed the cause of redefining the Kuchipudi dance form, with the aim of eliminating exploitation of women. Owing to his efforts, Kuchipudi came to be enriched by the advent of the female dancers, with time. Renowned gurus, like Vedantam Lakshminarayana, Chinta Krishnamurthy and Tadepalli Perayya, broadened the horizons of the dance form further. The reforms brought in, at that time, have today led to the women even playing the male parts in this dance form.

Rituals Before Kuchipudi
Before the dance drama of Kuchipudi, there are certain rituals that are performed in front of the audience. After the rituals, the Soothradhara or the conductor, with the supporting musicians, comes on stage, gives a play of rhythm on the drums and cymbals and announces the title of the dance drama. After this, two people enter, holding a curtain, behind which is a dancer in the mask of Ganpati (the elephant headed god). The dancer dances for some time, to worship Ganpati, so that the dance drama goes on without hitches. 

Introduction of Characters
In a Kuchipudi performance, each principal character introduces himself or herself on the stage with a daru. A daru is a small composition of dance and song specially designed for each character, to help him/her reveal his/her identity and also to show his/her skill in the art. There can be as many as 80 darus or dance sequences in a Kuchipudi performance. All of them help set the mood of the drama as well as the characters in it. Thereafter, the performance finally begins.

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